Sunday, 25 January 2015

Going off piste

We're not going down there are we mum? Yes. Yes we are. 
Um, I'm not so sure. Bailey doesn't want to go in there, and Monty is hanging back, so I don't think it's safe. Really? How about you give it a look, and then if you really don't want to, we can discuss it sensibly? GET ON! 
Mum. No. I'm not going in there. Look, my head is under the roof, and I'm telling you - it's SCARY. I'm turning around. No you're not. Look, have a second, that's fine, but you're not turning and running away from it. You're better than that. Come ON. 
AAAHHH ok mum we're in, it's... it's not so bad actually... I just need to check the others are following! Good boy, I told you it would be fine! Of course they're following, you've just shown them it's not scary, you ninny. You funny boys.

We've had a mixed bag this week. Rio came up for a little play on Thursday evening, and there were three horses in for the night. Do you think he would go into his stable and stay whilst I closed the door? Not a chance. He ended up being driven backwards the length of the barn because he was being so rude. We went into the indoor school to work on manners, where we experienced difficulty in getting him to stay on the right rein in walk or trot. We made it in the end, and ended up with some nice movement once he was actually listening. He joined up, and was happy to follow me at liberty in the school in various shapes and over a small raised pole. He went into his stable (still with a little fuss) and had dinner afterwards, so I still managed to have my own way on that front! 

Yesterday we went on a little mission around the local village, and ended up doing alot of road work. It was probably around 1hr 45mins with minimal time of that being off road, so although we had taken it steady and it was a walking hack for 98% of the ride, I was still a little worried about his splint and hind (unshod) feet. All was well though, and there was no sign of heat or swelling today, and his splint is no different. In the picture above, we are all lined up on Amy's drive (not pictured, but Monty is the one I'm holding!) 

We certainly drew a lot of attention, as there aren't usually horses on the roads we trekked. There are probably a few people with photos and videos of us now... Amazingly none of the boys pooed on the drive, but we did stop at Tesco on the way back to get a coke, where Bailey decided the pavement was a great place to let one go. That didn't go down so well, despite Mils trying to kick it off on to the road - the cashier wasn't impressed. Hey ho. Won't be going in there for a while! (The reason we were on the pavement was because it's on quite a busy road, and we were less in the way on the pavement than milling around in the road... I know we're not technically meant to be up there - just sods law!)

So we come back to today's ride, where we conquered the scary underpass! Rio was lovely and relaxed, other than the little fight to get him to trust me that he wouldn't get eaten down there. When we got back I decided we would spend a little while in the outdoor school again, whilst I was feeling comfortable and confident in the saddle. He would not move past the other boys as they were stopping to be untacked. Amy kindly grabbed her riding crop, and we were off. We had some lovely movement, and he even took up a bit of a contact with a bit of work from me. Perfect. Here's a video Amy took on our second run (can't beat a good bit of desensitising!) - I couldn't leave without going back again to get photos haha.

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Cool day

I love a good girly lunch. Me and Sharon were the only ones who would have our photo though so here we are. After we stood in the falling snow for a moment (it lasted probably no more than 10 minutes, but it tried!) we'd all done our yard chores for the morning, and set off for a delicious fry up down the road. 

I couldn't believe the ice that I pulled off the top of Rio's water in his bucket this morning. This was around 10am as well, it was so cold. Amazingly, there was next to no frost... All very strange. Rio soon tucked into his breakfast and I was far too excited about spreading his hay into more than two piles. I'm loving this drop in the wind speeds again. 

We spent today's hack (there were 5 of us today) practising not sticking to the horse in front's bottom, and standing to wait when asked. The first time I asked him, he just kept walking, in super collected fashion, and popping in little side steps. Not to mention the one attempt at a little mini plant and rear - he didn't get that far though as I gave him a quick kick to remind him who was in charge. As soon as he stood still for one second, I allowed him to move on, and we upped the ante from there. By the end of the hack, he was standing, and not moving a muscle until I asked him for as long as I tried to leave him. 

The improved response was with him in 3rd position though, and not fourth where we were on the first attempt. It's progress anyway. I'm not sure he will ever be a last horse kind of boy. As long as I can have an acceptable level of control over him wherever we are in a group, then I'm happy. If we can be in a more comfortable place for him, then all the better for it. 

When we got back to the yard I felt comfortable enough to sit and stretch out my legs without my stirrups for a few minutes, which is a relatively new thing for me to enjoy. I dismounted, and popped him into his stable for a bit. So proud. I just tried not to make a big deal of him being in there, other than to make sure he knew where I was so he didn't panic. 

I walked in and out of the stable again a couple of times whilst tidying things away, and getting his rug in to put on him. He listened very well, and didn't even have any haynet to keep him occupied. He did try to walk through me once, so I backed him up and made him wait. When it came time to walk out of the stable, I motioned him around and he came and waited behind me for me to clip the lead rope on. He walked out quite calmly, and I loved every second of it. 

Ride / play safe x

Friday, 16 January 2015

New year new look

My Photoshop trial ran out 17 minutes ago, so I thought I'd use the last bit of time having it to update my header! My question to you, if you would, is which one do you prefer? Quote or photo?

Fingers crossed the weather tomorrow afternoon thaws out enough for us to have a good ride!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Stable manners

Just look at Rio finally starting to look a bit more at home in his stable! I was trying to persuade him that the bank corner is a safe spot as much as by the door! Treats r us!

Seriously though, he did so well this evening. There were a couple of horses in for the night, so I'm not sure if that helps but the improvements are certainly showing.

Tonight I changed his rugs over, picked out all four feet and managed to walk out of the stable to get something and come back in without him trying to shove his way out of the door. It's amazing.

I could see he was thinking about scaling the door up at one or two points but I called him over and kept his mind off it and, for today at least, it worked well.

Ride / play safe x

Speedy update (and another video...)

Better photos to follow - more stable work this evening, and we'll update you on that tomorrow. Super happy. 

Last video of this Sunday's playing, I promise!

Ride / play safe x

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Making progress

I can't get enough of these photos of us - it's such a novelty! 

We made the most of the quieter weather last night, and Rio came up to do some more work on relaxing in his stable. There was no hesitation from him walking into the barn (yay!) and he walked through confidently (yay!) without sniffing at everything and shoving things off the sides (yay!)

Once in the stable, he munched on his dinner much more calmly without swinging his head around every few seconds to check he's still safe. I popped out of the stable for a moment and closed the door, and faffed around and he was very good. So as he got close to finishing his dinner, I went back in and sat on one of his storage boxes in there. He had a good look around, stood at the door, and went to try and jump it. Cue the carrot stick, for some confidence building - he doesn't need to rely on the door to feel safe!

It was actually fairly successful. I'm not sure how long we were in there, but I was able to move him away from the door when I wanted to. He dug into his haynet a few times, and then settled himself stood in the middle of his stable, or a few steps away from the door. I was very proud of him. He didn't barge out the door, and even waited a couple of steps behind me whilst I opened the door. 

So here's a little video (again, I know!) of us "jumping" the other day. There will probably be one more to follow on my next post. Sorry for the video spam - I'm just so pleased with it.

Ride / play safe x

Monday, 12 January 2015

Motivate me Monday!

We are still dancing on tiptoes after yesterday's lovely experience. 

It really sucks that the wind and rain are so poo and bringing moods down. My motivation this evening was totally sucked away, despite seeing Bailey in his stable and daydreaming about the future when I might be able to give him cuddles in the stable! We have many more stable training sessions to come.

Ride / play safe x

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Walking on wind!

We braved the winds today. After our little play yesterday, and not having done anything else since last weekend, it could have been interesting. Except the Alfa rage seems to have dissipated!

We went out with Millie and Bailey for a wander around the village, and Rio tried out his new boots again! He does look dashing all dressed up with his smart booties and exercise fleece. All was going well, and then we came back in onto the field, where a lady was walking through the footpath that runs alongside the track. Rio was a bit on his toes, and had a little spook, which I'd contained. However Bailey is still learning how to follow, and had other ideas - all I heard was "my pony's going to explode!" The perfect cue before we took off full speed ahead down the field. I found a few seconds to realise that if I sat in, gave him his head and then checked him, he might come back to me. Hey presto - we had a lovely canter whilst we watched Millie disappear off into the distance and pull him up at the corner. 

We decided it would be a good option to get them to walk around the field so that the next time we went out on the field, neither of our boys would expect a good canter! We had a canter up the first side, then walked back to the yard, and I even had Rio on a long rein. Millie decided that she wanted to take Bailey in the school and hop a few small poles/cross poles. It seemed the perfect opportunity for me to address my fear of the outdoor school. I decided I would go in and walk Rio round a couple of times just to say that I'd done it. A building block as such.

 We walked around a few times, and he didn't put a hoof wrong, so I decided to try a trot. I was so pleased when he dropped his head down into a lovely contact, even though my reins were longer than usual when I would be asking for it. 

And then this happened! We were having so much fun, we "jumped" several times and didn't even think about being in the outdoor arena!

Needless to say, Rio got lots of cuddles, and was treated to an apple and pear in his dinner this evening.

Ride / play safe x

Saturday, 10 January 2015


Freedom to be you. Freedom to be what you want. Freedom to be who you want to be. Freedom to travel through life and learn it's lessons. 

Thanks to the wind and horrible weather today, I decided a ride was off the cards. Not because I was worried about Rio being a numpty, but because he's been so good recently and I keep on saying that I'm going to do some groundwork with him and haven't. This seemed the perfect opportunity. It was also a great chance to trial his new sports boots! He's getting to be a right posh-boy. We did some in-hand work and getting him to stay out of my space. He did some trotting work but was only on his regular lead rope so it was quite small circles around me. That said, he settled very quickly, and was soon trotting with his neck stretched beautifully and nose to the ground. Lush. 

I thought he might enjoy a chance for a prance on his own whilst I had a chat at the gate with Sarah, so I let him off the lead rope, but he just wasn't interested. When I ran around the school, however, he loved it and happily followed! So we went back to working, and had a couple of cones set up as a stop start box. The idea being that we would walk or trot to the cones, and stop or go down to walk as we went through them. It only worked! We even managed a couple of steps backwards after halting in the cones. So proud. 

Check him out! 5 minutes in his stable having his dinner this evening. With the door shut! I left him to it, and listened out for the tell tale sound of him sizing up the door to jump it, before I intervened. He didn't barge out of the stable when I opened the door, and had even had a bit of a munch on his haynet. Now tell me that the Alfa A hadn't been addling his brain at all? Is this really my boy?

We've been having such windy days recently, so Rio's hay has been at risk of being blown away. I've resorted to weighting it down with a tyre for now,but I'm hoping my lovely hubby might build me a pallet hay manger of some sort - will keep you updated! 

Ride / play safe x

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Keep it natural

Hey everyone! Mum has handed me the reins this evening as she's been super busy starting to plan a "baby shower" - whatever one of those is.

My breakfast and dinner were changed just over a week or so ago, and I feel so much better now that I'm on a more natural feed. I've always been on Alfa A, but since mum changed it for ReadiGrass I feel much calmer without all the extra rubbish in my system. 

I was so well behaved this evening, mum didn't have to raise her voice once. I had a lovely brush, and mum says my coat is looking super shiny. Looks like that new diet is having more effects than expected! Yay me. I'd also like to mention that despite my field being quite ... empty... the yummy hay is keeping my spirits up. I always get at least four little piles to go and munch, which does mean I have to walk around to get it all, but I can let that go. I've even been getting five or six piles some days! It's boring standing still all day anyway...

Does my butt look big in this? Guess who's been practising tail plaiting again? My tail is getting a bit long again... Ahem... It is smooth and silky though! I didn't even fidget whilst it was plaited this evening. I got so many cuddles and scratches, which just helped me relax more. I even plucked up the courage to wander through the barn. I wasn't asked to, but mum didn't stop me - we walked up and out the other end, and I got some more scratches behind my ears before we walked back through the other way. I can do this. Maybe mum will start doing some of the scary stable training again soon, then I can show her how brave I can be.

I really enjoyed my stretches this evening, I'm super flexible! The carrot was nearly at my bum and I barely had to strain - yum yum. I also had to stretch down and out to the side, which was a bit confusing at first, but I got it in the end. I've obviously gained mum's trust more as she let me off the lead rope when I was doing them, so I made sure I was on my best behaviour. 

I couldn't resist showing off with a flashy collected canter when my head collar came off in the field whilst I waited for my hay to be brought in. I've been making an effort when my feed is brought in to pay attention and wait for my bowl to be put down and be told I can have it. It's been much easier since I started paying attention as mum doesn't get shouty or pushy with me.

Catch up soon! x

PS. There's another video been posted on the video page - it's a follow-on to part one!

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Go Pro is GO!

I have added a new video to the video page! Here's the first part of the compilation I did from the Go Pro from our ride at the weekend. So much fun!

Ride / play safe x

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Red mist on the clear?

It's been a good couple of days. Yesterday, Rio lead out his own little hack around the village. He was responsive, patient, and even when he had a little worry in the scary corner as we left the field, he worked through it with me. What a brave boy. We stopped and started, did collected walking, had a beautifully controlled steady trot, and even managed to stand and wait for others without fidgeting. Is this really my boy? 

It seems that the mists of alfa anger may be lifting. Or it may just be that he's enjoying regular work. Either way, it made for an absolutely delightful ride today when we hit Belstead in the trailer with a couple of friends. It's been a while since we've done this ride with anyone other than us and Sarah with Franks. I wasn't sure what he'd be like! 

I was given the scary responsibility of riding with the Go Pro today (Sarah's chrimbo prezzy!) and it was pretty cool. It amazed me just how light it was - you just about forget it's there, which is great. Not so great when you gasp, or talk - we all know how bad we sound on video, right? Seeing some of the footage at the end made it worthwhile, there's something super funky about re-living a brilliant hack, and seeing your boy's ears bobbing along! Fingers crossed I can get my mitts on the footage so I can post some here for you in the near future. For now, these lovely shots of Rio's bottom will have to suffice. 

We had a couple of moments, he lost his back end a couple of times going over a slightly icy bridge, that wasn't so fun. Then on the way back someone had gone to hold their dog but stepped back out of obvious view, so that was clearly terrifying, and we did an almighty side step/leap off the track onto the field - sorry Mr Farmer Man. I was mostly relieved not to have toppled off in full public recorded view of the camera! That would have been embarrassing... 

We also did a couple of jumps (inadvertently!) one on the first canter track, where we hopped a puddle, and another jump going up the canter hill. I'm not sure if he thought he'd reached the top and was trying to jump the crest again, or whether he was just getting excitable. He did really go for it on the second run! He also had a super hissy fit at the top whilst we waited for the others, foot stomping and all! Despite all that, he was far less sweaty today, even with his exercise rug on. His girth line was sweaty, but thanks to his new Le Mieux numnah, and hopefully him being a little fitter, he had only traces of sweat under the saddle. Even his armpits weren't sweaty like usual!

All in all, a very enjoyable end to my time off between jobs. Tomorrow I start my new role, and I must admit to being a tad nervous! Our ride today was a perfect distraction. Now to see next weekend if it's alfa rage that was causing his grumpiness, or if it is just lack of work... Bring on the Spring!

Ride / play safe x

Friday, 2 January 2015

All wound up

Well after all the craziness of Christmas, travelling and New Year, it's time to start trying to get my head around a routine again in a couple of days. I start a new job on Monday, which means back to the 8 - 5 lifestyle and making up feeds, haynets and planning my time better at the yard. I'm a sucker for mooching around and achieving a whole lot of nothing when I've got time spare! We've got a bit of hit and miss for a while now too, whilst I change Rio's feed - we think he may be getting a touch of Alfa Anger. He's on alfa A, and despite his calming supplement from Hack Up, he's been getting rather stroppy recently. On to Ready Grass to see if it makes a difference...

So at the end of the year, Haynet hosted a wonderful giveaway - I sent off my entry, and was absolutely shocked when I received an email saying I was a winner! Not only "a" winner, I was the winner of the main prize! I would like to extend again my heartiest thanks to the Haynet team, and those at Dragonfly Saddlery & Trickle Net for my early Christmas surprise. 

It was super exciting as my parcels came in!

Caldene Seat Saver

Haynet Hoody
Haynet Mug
Christmas Box of an Equilibrium Vitamunch Block and Net

Rio had his Vitamunch block today after our ride, and although he went in full chomp at first, he soon got the hang of it! By the time I went back down to see him with his dinner and evening hay a couple of hours later, it was nowhere to be found - I think he approved... My mug will be coming with me to my new job, and will have pride of place on my desk once my training is completed. The seat saver is super plush and luxurious - great for this changeable weather at the moment. The tricklenet has the teeniest holes I've ever seen, but the wastage is greatly reduced! Even walking hay down to the field I'm not losing fly-away bits on the tracks. 

Stock image of Rio's smart new exercise sheet
I got some vouchers for a local tack shop, Dawn's Tack Box to spend from my lovely colleagues at my old job, and went to spend them today! I came away with a new fleece ride-on for Rio, a nice new blue lead rope, a yellow hi-viz (he's growing up a bit too much for a pink "young horse in training" one *sniff*) & also some new riding gloves (some simple wool with pimpled palm ones). 

I (and I mean Rio) got some posh Le Mieux saddle wear for Christmas. He now has a merino wool half pad in brown, and a numnah - unfortunately he can only wear one at a time or his saddle doesn't have the clearance under the gullet! He looks super smart though - pictures to follow, as we've been rushing around tacking up and hitting the roads and I've not had chance to get a photo yet. I resisted the urge to splurge on a blingy browband whilst shopping today, but only because I didn't have his bridle with me to match the brown! Oops!

Well I'm signing off in preparation for a soggy ride out tomorrow morning.

Ride / play safe x